An independent report by Nick Winser, in his capacity as government’s inaugural Electricity Networks Commissioner, has been published today (4 August 2023). The report sets out recommendations for accelerating the rollout of electricity transmission infrastructure, which will be crucial to moving electricity generated from renewable sources to the places that need it.
Nick’s report includes proposals to government on streamlining the consenting process for major schemes, and for a more strategic approach to planning the future of networks spatially.
Responding to the report, Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, said:
“We need transformational change in our electricity network to support the government’s ambitious offshore wind plans and to support decarbonised heating and electric vehicles.
“But we cannot deliver that change at current speeds of delivery. Nick Winser’s report is an authoritative prescription for addressing this.
“Government and Ofgem must continue their work to drive anticipatory investment and embed a more strategic and spatial approach to planning electricity networks.
“We particularly welcome the recognition of the vital role of the independent system operator in providing a single version of the truth on network capacity, as well as the endorsement of the Commission’s recent recommendations on regular updates to National Policy Statements.
“We look forward to government and Ofgem’s upcoming connections action plan, building on this important work. The Commission will also make recommendations on further actions to enable the necessary investment in electricity networks in the upcoming second National Infrastructure Assessment.”
The Commission’s own recommendations on speeding up the consenting process for nationally significant infrastructure projects, referenced by Sir John and published in April 2023, called for National Policy Statements to be updated every five years as a legal requirement and clearer direct benefits for communities which host key infrastructure schemes. Government is currently considering its formal response to the Commission’s proposals.